The Global Witness, the watchdog for the environment, stated that the Philippines became one of the most unwelcoming countries since President Rodrigo Duterte took over the office. Since the start of his term, there have been 113 killings.
Statistic says that state forces caused 46% of these unfortunate events, and 44% of these occurred in Mindanao. Another fact is that 27% of the killed were affiliated to domestic groups. Also, 36% of killings are related to agriculture and 27% to mining issues.
Ben Leather, the Senior Campaigner at Global Witness, investigated the threats that various governments made. In a press conference on Tuesday, he stated that the Philippines had more killings of this kind than any other Asian country. So it is no wonder that the Philippines is the most dangerous country for those who wish to stand for their land and environment rights. Leather also explained that activists here faced attacks, threats, or imprisonment, but the culprits were rarely prosecuted.
The group claims that President Duterte is responsible for this strong trend against activists due to the fact that he is not acting according to his campaign promise to take care of the natural resources of the country. Leather said that the president gave three promises when he came into power — to protect marginalized groups, eliminate corruption, and look after the precious environment.
As the investigation of the Global Witness confirmed, the government of Rodrigo Duterte failed on all of the three mentioned promises, leaving environmental and land defenders to be assaulted with impunity.
Lives of ordinary Filipinos are irreparably damaged because businesses such as mining, agribusiness, and tourism are left uncontrolled. Conflicts of interest and corruption affecting some of the well-known politicians are out of control
When Rodrigo Duterte was running for president, critics admired him for his firm stand on environment protection, as the Environment Secretary at the time, Gina Lopez, started a war against illegal logging and mining. Still, the abuses of such kind continued since the president seems to pretend not to notice the attacks.
Not so long ago, a ranger of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was killed by illegal loggers. Leather said that if the government of the Philippines was planning to deliver the promises it made, it should stand up to corrupt politicians and big businesses and keep the environmental defenders safe.